He's played Winston Churchill in The Crown, a serial killer in Dexter, and a dad who discovers a Sasquatch in Harry and the Hendersons — but to many fans, John Lithgow will always be associated with Dr. Dick Solomon.
Lithgow has revealed to BuzzFeed News he's not totally opposed to returning to the 3rd Rock From the Sun, the NBC sitcom about undercover aliens that ran from 1996–2001 — but he's not sure he's up to it.
"I would never say no to anything," Lithgow said during an interview Wednesday on AM to DM. "My only hesitation is that it was the perfect experience, and I'm a little wary of returning to anything and having it be less than what it was. It was a perfectly wonderful six years."
Lithgow was nominated for an Emmy during each of the show's six seasons, and took home three for his work on the series, which also starred Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Jane Curtin.
But he said he isn't quite certain he'd have the energy to return to the fast-paced show.
"It was a youthful game," he added. "I'm — what? — 20 years older now. And for one thing, it was high energy. Your mind had to be so quick! I'm slowing down."
Lithgow, 74, may think he's slowing down as he ages, but he's as busy as ever. He has a new book of poetry out satirizing President Donald Trump, Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse. And just this week he penned an op-ed about Trump in the New York Times, writing, "the performer in chief is forcing us to live in a B-movie horror."
He's also starring in the upcoming Fox News movie Bombshell as Roger Ailes, the former network chair who was forced to resign amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
"I think it's a major film and certainly the first great film of the #MeToo movement," Lithgow said of the movie.
Lithgow disclosed one interesting tidbit about the Fox News movie: The same person who made the Ailes prosthetics he wore in the film, Kazu Hiro, produced the prosthesis that Gary Oldman wore in The Darkest Hour when he played Churchill — a role for which Lithgow didn't use prosthetics when he played it in The Crown.
The actor also revealed to BuzzFeed News the challenge he faced trying to empathize with and understand Ailes' character.
"I'm in the business of empathy — that is, finding out what makes people tick, why they are driven to behave the way they do," he said, "and that goes for people who do very, very good things, and for people who do very, very bad things."
In order to try to better understand Ailes, Lithgow said, he tracked down an old friend who worked backstage with Ailes on Broadway in the 1970s and who described Ailes' sense of humor and "what fabulous company he was."
"It's so opposite to the conventional wisdom and what my own expectations were playing the part," Lithgow said. "But watch the film, because at every point — not to make him sympathetic, but to have sympathy with the devil, to find out what drives him, and how it's very likely that what drives him is something he himself is deeply ashamed of. It makes it a much more fascinating dilemma playing the part."